There may be a good argument to make on behalf of teaching Intelligent Design in science class, but this documentary from Ben Stein does not make it. The movie itself is an example of design by faith and emotion rather than intelligence, defined as rationality grounded in proof. Instead of making a straightforward case for Intelligent Design as a scientific theory, Stein employs misdirection and guilt by very tangential association to try to make his case.
Intelligent Design advocates believe that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected or random or mechanical process such as Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Stein begins by interviewing scientists who lost their jobs for even mentioning the theory, baits some Darwinian scientists in selective clips from interviews, and then visits Dachau and the Hadamar euthanasia center, where the Nazis murdered thousands of disabled people. Stein tells us he is not saying that Darwinism leads to mass murder, but the connection he draws is unmistakable.
Like the tobacco companies once they could no longer question the legitimacy of the scientific evidence connecting cigarettes and disease, Stein quickly shifts the debate from a head-to-head assessment of analysis of data to frame the issue as one of freedom of speech. The movie opens with archival footage not of science labs or the animal life on Galapagos Island, where Darwin first began to develop his theory, but of the construction of the Berlin Wall. Stein tries to draw a parallel between the wall that divided Germany and the impenetrable wall that keeps Intelligent Design out of the science establishment. But he is also associating Darwinian science with Godlessness, communism, and totalitarianism, with detours into Nazi atrocities and atheism so over-the-top that it becomes shrill and irrational.
And irrationality is the opposite of scientific inquiry. Stein says that freedom of speech requires that both Intelligent Design and Darwin’s natural selection should be taught in America’s classrooms. But he never subjects Intelligent Design to the kind of scrutiny required by scientific analysis, which is based on observation and experimentation. Intelligent Design is based the fact that (1) there are questions that natural selection does not answer — which Darwinian scientists admit, and (2) therefore, some intelligent force must be behind creation — which cannot be proven by scientific means and therefore is more appropriately considered within the fields of philosophy or religion.
Science is all about challenging, refining, and refuting established theories, as the movie concedes, with Albert Einstein’s improvement of the theories of Isaac Newton as an example. But both Newton and Einstein agreed on what science was and how to evaluate scientific theories. As presented by Stein, Intelligent Design and Darwinian theory make the same observations, but come to different conclusions. Darwin says that life forms evolved through random mutation and natural selection, the survival of the fittest. Intelligent Design says that life is so complex that it is all the evidence we need to show that some intelligent (conscious, intentional) force must have created it. Stein never shows that Intelligent Design can go from theory to explanation as it must to be considered science. As a lawyer, he should understand that freedom of speech also guarantees the freedom not to have to listen to mangled, manipulative, and disingenuous rhetoric like this.
40 dads, 6 experts, 9 months, and 80 minutes.
Being Dad is a sort of “what to expect while SHE’s expecting,” a man-to-man welcome to fatherhood from “a guy’s point of view.” This guys talking to guys about the stuff guys think about, from “that sexy girl I married is turning into what?” to “I have to be, like, responsible now?”
Being Dad isn’t a how-to guide. It doesn’t push an agenda. And it’s not a medical textbook with minute-by-minute explanations of the anatomical changes happening to your baby.
Instead, we blend interviews with new dads from around the country with plain English advice from experts. Much quicker and less painful than the average labor, the 80 minute-DVD offers wisdom, humour and even a few tissue-box moments.
The Washington Post reports that a new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for CBS called “Unorthodox” is currently filming in Washington DC:
Great to see Hollywood getting into spirituality! The crew that set up Wednesday on Georgetown’s Cambridge Place for a one-day shoot was filming “Unorthodox,” a made-for-TV movie about a young D.C. doctor who is pressured to marry the widow of his Hasidic rabbi brother in accordance with ancient levirate law. Neighbors couldn’t help but chuckle, though, that the filming went on well past sunset — and into the start of Yom Kippur, when the observant are supposed to abstain from working. Oh, well!
Home Movie Day is October 18, and everyone from Martin Scorsese to John Waters is urging all of us to participate.
The Center for Home Movies collects, preserves, provides access to, and promotes understanding of home movies and amateur motion pictures.
For my parents’ 25th anniversary, I organized all of our family’s home movies, going back to the 1930’s. For their 50th, my sister had them put on DVD for each of us. No matter how well we know those images, there are always surprises (and not just how young and beautiful everyone was). Footage of our communities and the places we visited remind us of how much has changed.
Contrary to all of the jokes about how endlessly boring other people’s home movies are, there is an extraordinary poignancy and even art in many of them. Long before the days of YouTube and “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” people were recording their families and occasions and archives of these films are beginning to be available online. One of the acknowledged greats of home movies is Robbins Barstow. His 30-minute film of his family’s trip to Disneyland in 1956, one year after it opened, is an engaging artifact of an era and an almost-impossibly functional family. Twenty years earlier, Barstow and his brothers made a home movie version called “Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge” that is reminiscient of the marvelous “Son of Rambow” its verve and imagination. Barstow’s recollection of the making of that film and its sequel 38 years later is a delight. ” Watching these visual records of little pieces of our lives served as a real bonding instrument,” Barstow says. Home movie day should inspire everyone to get out their movies and watch them together to remind everyone in the family about where you’ve been and those you love.